Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts

Friday, September 29, 2023

I Was Thinking About Getting a Passport

Image by Anna ZieliƄska from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now, haunt them after I'm deleted.  

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring Dana: Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"Without opening your door, you can open your heart to the world." -Lao Tzu

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

I visited Mexico, once, in the late eighties, and I've been to Canada a few times. At the time all I needed to get into Canada, and return, was my driver's license. 

I needed a driver's license to get back into the USA from Mexico but when wild-eyed Walter and I walked over the bridge from Brownsville to Matamoros the gentleman in a booth on the Mexican side merely nodded to us as we strolled by.

I always thought it would be cool to have a passport and when, a few years back, I heard that Americans now needed a passport to travel to/return from either country it occurred to me that I should think about getting a passport, "just in case."

However, I'm not much of a traveler these days, never have been really, so I wasn't in a hurry. 

{A few years back? That policy went into effect 1/1/2008, 15 years ago!}

Thanks for pointing that out, Dana. 

Since then, things in Mexico have gotten a little too interesting in my opinion; I've seen Niagra Falls at least twice from the Canadian side — well worth the trip — but heading north out of Ohio (Canada's deep South) instead of in the opposite direction is nowadays counter-intuitive to me. 

Also, I came across a news story recently that has me wondering if things in Canada might be getting a little too interesting as well.

There's an ongoing kerfuffle concerning book banning in American schools. 

{You never tire of the K-word do you?}  

Being a former bibliophile (my ardor for books, not unlike many former fascinations, has diminished) and a dude who read and enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 way back when, book-banning stories always catch my eye. 

I admit that as a parent, grandparent, and semi-rational H. sapien that I have no problem with parents who are trying to get what amount to graphic sex manuals removed from little Johnny's/Joanie's/J's school library.

Unfortunately, many a news report on specific examples of this phenomenon paint all the parents involved as far-right wingnuts, homophobes, etc. but often what the parents are objecting to is content that's so graphic that... Well, here's an example:

Personally, what I find shocking is the willingness of many people/parents to bend over backward, in a rush to non-judgment of age-inappropriate books, or anything else, to demonstrate how accepting, fair, and open-minded they are. 

If it feels good, or right, do it — or steal it, or set it on fire, or beat them up, or...

Here's a looong article from titled Closed Book — I watched "book bans" happen in real time. I thought they were all hysteria. Then I opened one of the most challenged titles — written by Aymann Ismail.

Long article short, Mr. Ismail admits the book in question, It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie H. Harris, freaked him out, but only sort/kinda, cause he's a very sophisticated dude. 

But he also admits that although it's supposed to be appropriate for kids 10 and up he wouldn't want his kids reading it once they reach the age of ten.  

He goes on and on (and on) about why graphic sex manuals with illustrations, for kids and teens, are not necessarily a bad thing, and quotes experts, mentions book bannings, beats up on conservative Christian parents, and also... 

{Okay, fine, so now we know you're not sex-positive. What's this got to do with...}

Canada? Well, I don't know how he feels about graphic sex manuals for kids and teens, but the Ontario Minister of Education and some... enthusiastic librarians at the Erindale Secondary School have come up with an interesting way to protect kids from the pernicious threat of Pasty Patriarchical Hegemonistic Euro-imperialism — equity-based book weeding.

{You spelled patriarchal wrong.}

Yes, I did. 

The Harry Potter and Hunger Games books are history. Another looong (but much more interesting article as it's often unintentionally hilarious) on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website tells the tale.

"In May, [Mary]Takata says the shelves at Erindale Secondary School were full of books, but she noticed that they had gradually started to disappear. 'This [school] year, I came into my school library and there are rows and rows of empty shelves with absolutely no books,' said Takata...'

'In the spring,' Takata says students were told by staff that 'if the shelves look emptier right now it's because we have to remove all books [published] prior to 2008.'"

Where did all the books go? Why 2008? 

Ontario's Education Minister, the Honourable Stephen Lecce issued a directive and then a... 

{You spelled Honorable wrong.}

No, I didn't. 

As best I can tell — it's a complicated story and none of the parties involved are accepting blame — Mr. Lecce, based on the results of a report he commissioned, ordered an "equity-based weeding" of library books at Mary Takata's high school which is under the control of the Peel District School Board (PDSB). 

The 46-page report determined that the PDSB was running a district (45% South Asian, 17% white, 10% black, 6% East Asian, 5% Middle Eastern, 17% Others) that was a hotbed of anti-black racism in need of multiple reforms.

The equity-based "weeding" ordered by Ontario's Honourable Minister of Education was for all books published 15 or more years ago (2008). The librarians were to examine each and every book and apply an acronym, MUSTIE, to determine its fate. 

Was the book Misleading, Unpleasant (physical condition... in theory), Superseded, Trivial, Irrelevant, or Elsewhere? You can discover details by reading the article. 

Unfortunately/hilariously, the librarians simply tossed all books published prior to 2008 in the trash. Allegedly, this was a mistake, a miscommunication. Personally, I hope they did it on purpose and are still exchanging secret smiles, or laughing out loud when hanging out at the librarian's water hole after work. 

The relevant parties aren't doing any finger-pointing, Canadians being much nicer people than ugly Americans. However, they've all issued bum-covering statements that read like they were composed by lawyers.

Big BUT, the members of a newly formed local organization called Libraries Not Landfills would like some answers. 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Friday, October 1, 2021

O Canada (Oh America)

Two countries (and two videos) for the price of one!

Photo by Bianca Ackermann on Unsplash

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids and my great-grandkids — the Stickies — eventual selves to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted. Reading via monitor/tablet is recommended for maximum enjoyment.  

Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in an intersectional triggering. Intended for H. sapiens who are — in the words of the late, great bon vivant and polymath, Professor Y. Bear — "Smarter (and cooler) than the av-er-age bear." 

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlereader  

"I personally think our national anthem is not patriotic enough. There is another poem by Dwijendralal Ray called 'Dhono Dhanne Pushpe Bhora,' which is more soul-stirring as a national anthem." -Victor Banerjee

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grandstickies (and Gentlereaders),

I was reminded that we have upstairs neighbors (so to speak), the Canadians, from the minimal and brief coverage given to the recent reelection of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.   

O Canada, I'm embarrassed to say that my knowledge of any and all things Canadian is as scant as the scant news coverage given to Canada here in the states. 


Dana, what are you doing?

{Ever notice how some words almost cry out to be mindlessly and rapidly repeated till they become a noise?}

Of course, it's a phenomenon called semantic satiation, a phrase coined by Leon Jacobovits James in his 1962 doctoral dissertation at McGill University in Canada. 

{       }

Ever notice how often people say, "I should look that up?" Well, I often actually do. 

{       } 

And believe it or not, Justin Trudeau graduated from McGill University in 1994, and, I visited the Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum in Niagra Falls, Canada — in 1994. 


Right? Anyways, the news stories reminded me that I've always wanted to know more about Canada other than the fact our upstairs neighbors are normally very quiet, unlike our downstairs neighbors, who are busy devolving into a narco-state.

Good news for junkies impacted by the crackdown on big pharma though, literally tons of opioids, fentanyl, and other drugs are crossing the border these days. Not to mention a plentiful supply of cheap, unskilled labor to fuel our economy.  

I've always wondered why Canada's national anthem is called O Canada, not Oh Canada. I've failed to find why, but I did find out that Canada didn't officially have a national anthem till 1980. 

Not only that, the tune was written by an American Civil War veteran, and the original lyrics were written, in French, by a judge from Quebec. The song was supposed to be Quebec's national anthem.

Thirty years later the lyrics were "translated" into English by another judge. He played fast and loose with the words and rendered them in such a way as to reflect his political and spiritual beliefs.

Nowadays, there's a third version, a bilingual one that's officially endorsed by the Canadian government. I got all this information from a website devoted to "Canadiana" that's quite interesting. 

The article includes an eye-opening video. I learned, or rather was reminded as I'm old, that Canada was caught up in violence triggered by identity politics back in 1968, the year Mr. Trudeau's father became prime minister.  

Some of our normally quiet and reserved neighbors were fighting, figuratively and literally, over identity politics and were singing two different national anthems long before we Citizens of the Republic were.

{What are you talking about?} 

Whoopi and Billy, of course.

Go a googlin' and enter the names of two of our leading public intellectuals thusly: Whoopi Goldberg v. Bill Maher (or vice-versa). You will receive no shortage of hits that are variations of a theme.

Bill Maher fires back...
Bill Maher hits back...
Bill Maher slams back...
Bill Maher slaps back...

At Whoopie Goldberg. 

{Bill Maher is abusing a black woman?}

Nah, they're just having a virtual spat — that is to say, verbally arguing without having to be in the same room — over the fact the NFL is playing two national anthems these days.

{Really? Why? And what...} 

Look it up. One for white people, one for black people. 

It's a tempest in a teapot. Celebrities, an organization of millionaires owned by gazillionaires, social media, and the purple press jockeying for an appropriate political position — and the pursuit of profits. 

When I'm king I shall impose a royal compromise. Henceforth, America's national anthem will be America the Beautiful. 

The lyrics were written by a highly accomplished woman, Katharine Lee Bates, the tune by a rather ordinary man, Samuel A. Ward.   

Ms. Bates was a professor of English literature and wrote one of the first college textbooks on American literature. She may have been a lesbian. She definitely was a " activist interested in the struggles of women, workers, people of color, tenement residents, immigrants, and poor people" according to Wikipedia.

{But she was white!}

About 70% of NFL players are black. Do you know of any white football fans/people that care? 

Speakin' of googlin', I googled America the Beautiful and the first hit was a video of Ray Charles — singing America the Beautiful


Gasp! Begone from my largish head philistine!

{Nope-nope-nope, I checked out the lyrics, too many God references. Clearly another case of systemic theism.}

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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